More than £1.6million in investments is planned to encourage graduates to stay in the city of Leicester after finishing their courses.
Leicester City Council, De Montfort University and the University of Leicester have joined forces in setting up an internship scheme that aims to support small businesses to offer workplace opportunities to students.
The scheme is being called the ‘Leicester: Graduate City’ scheme and. has already secured funding of £840,000 from the European Social Fund. Leicester City Council has raised around £309,000 in match-funding. There has also been nearly £214,000 from De Montfort University and nearly £317,000 from the University of Leicester.
Recently, the University of Leicester published its Economic and Social Impact Report. This study revealed revealed that once they graduate, only 23% of students choose to make Leicester their home. In addition, students spend £10 million with local businesses per year, and almost 20,000 students contribute to the city’s economy in shops, bars and restaurants.
A number of six-week internships at local businesses will be set up, which will be completed by second-year students at both of Leicester’s universities.
Alongside workplace training, the internships will highlight the range and quality of job opportunities available locally for graduates, which should help to promote and increase graduate retention.
City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Encouraging graduates to live and work in Leicester when they have finished their studies is a key part of our Economic Action Plan, so I’m delighted that we have been awarded this money and are able to match-fund it, along with our partners at both local universities.
“We need the skills and knowledge that graduates bring to Leicester. By creating these internships, we introduce our diverse local businesses to the skills and talent they need to grow and thrive. Our aim is to help both graduates and businesses at a very difficult time, boosting our local economy and stimulating Leicester’s economic recovery.”
De Montfort University’s head of careers and employability, Adele Browne, said: “We know from businesses that they can’t always find the skilled recruits they need, and we know from students that they aren’t always aware of the diverse range of businesses operating in and around our city. Internship schemes offer a brilliant opportunity to close these gaps and create a pipeline of graduates into Leicester’s economy.”
Professor Nishan Canagarajah, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Leicester said: “Our university community plays an integral role in the city. We want to ensure we can retain the expertise and skills our students bring so that they can make Leicester their home. These internships are critical for students to acquire valuable skills while making useful contributions to their place of work. We are proud to be citizens of change in our city of Leicester.”
It is said that at least 96 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will benefit from the scheme.
The project will run until February 2023, with internships available over the next two years.
To find out more about the scheme, email project manager Sally Hackett at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Sam Ellison